Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 08/06/12

As the dust began to settle from last week’s flurry of roster moves, the minor leagues got back to the business of winning ballgames.

Dustin Geiger set an RBI record for Peoria, while Christian Villanueva had a smashing debut for Daytona. Not to be outdone, Dong-Yub Kim was also going deep for Boise and Justin Bour led the system in dingers for this week. While in Iowa, Chris Rusin helped stop a losing streak with an assist from Josh Vitters. A top prospect received a promotion after being awarded another weekly award while two of the organization’s top prospects received their call to the Show.

A special thanks to Neil for the great job he did with the report while I was off last week.

Note: Monday’s report will cover games from Wednesday to Saturday. Thursday’s report covers games Sunday through Tuesday.

Short Season-A – Boise Hawks (20-29)
The Hawks put up seven runs in the fifth inning on Wednesday, as the bullpen made things interesting in a 14-10 win over Spokane. Three Boise players drove in three runs apiece, as a Xavier Batista three-run homer was part of a 3-for-5 night that included two doubles. Jeimer Candelario and Dong-Yub Kim were each 2-for-5 with a double as they joined Batista in plating three runs. Lance Rymel also went 3-for-4 with a double and an RBI. Trey Martin (2-for-6) and Dan Vogelbach (2-for-5) joined the collection players with a multi-hit game.

It was a “bullpen day” for Boise, as Su-Min Jung got the start and struck out three while allowing an earned run in three innings. Nathan Dorris held the Indians off for two scoreless innings, but the debut of Tyler Bremer yielded four earned runs in two innings. Willengton Cruz continued to baffle the experts, as the talented left-hander continued his decent by giving up five earned runs in two innings.

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On Thursday, Spokane spotted Boise a run in the first inning, and then, it was all Indians as the Hawks were blown out 15-1. The defense played their part, as six Boise errors led to seven unearned runs. Starter James Pugliese was the biggest victim, surrendering five unearned runs while striking out three in five innings. Michael Heesch ended his scoreless streak, as he allowed three runs (two earned) in 1.2 innings, while Rafael Diplan also gave up three runs (two earned) and struck out two in 1.1 innings. Catcher Lance Rymel was asked to mop up, as he completed the trashing by letting in four earned runs in the final inning. Marco Hernandez and Dan Vogelbach were the lone offensive bright spots. Hernandez and Vogelbach were both 2-for-4 with Vogelbach driving in Hernandez with the Hawks’ lone run.

Boise was shut down by Spokane’s bullpen on Friday, as the Hawks’ pen couldn’t hold in a 6-5 loss to the Indians. The Hawks started out well, as a Rock Shoulders (1-for-4) two-run blast was part of a four-run second inning. Dong-Yub Kim (1-for-4) added a solo shot in the fourth inning. Two for the Northwest League’s leading hitters also contributed, as Gioskar Amaya was 2-for-4 with a triple and an RBI, while Steven Bruno (1-for-4) drove in his 18th run. Jose Arias labored through 2.2 innings, allowing two earned runs and striking out three batters. Hayden Simpson was able to get out of a jam left by Arias, but gave up three earned runs and struck out six in 4.1 innings. Eduardo Orozco (one inning, one strikeout) let in what proved to be the game winner in the eighth inning, as he failed to shut down Spokane after Simpson ran out of gas.

After a couple of tough losses, Boise held on to score a 6-2 victory over Spokane on Saturday. The Hawks’ most effective pitcher, Tayler Scott, is third in the Northwest League with a 1.71 ERA as he tossed 5.1 innings and allowed two runs (one earned). Matt Iannazzo came back from a previous poor outing with 2.2 scoreless innings while striking out four batters. Nathan Dorris finished up by shutting out the Indians in the ninth.

Dan Vogelbach led the offensive charge by going 2-for-4 with three RBI. The Northwest League’s third leading hitter, Stephen Bruno, tried out a new position as he lined up in centerfield and went 2-for-4 with a double. Jeimer Candelario also drove in a run as he was 1-for-4.

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Low Class-A – Peoria Chiefs (51-59)
Wednesday’s match with Quad Cities resembled a glorified Tee-ball game, as Peoria put on a winning kick for an 11-10 victory. The teams combined for 27 hits, as only three players for either side failed to hit safely. Dustin Geiger had a monster of a game for the Chiefs, going 3-for-5 with a double, two home runs, and eight RBI. A Javier Baez (2-for-5) double brought in Pin-Chieh Chen (2-for-4, double, three runs scored) in the top of the ninth, while Geiger’s two-run blast gave Peoria the winning margin. Zeke DeVoss was also 2-for-4.

It was a day to forget for several of the Chiefs’ pitchers, starting with Zach Cates, as he struck out four and allowed four earned runs over 2.2 innings. Luis Liria added to his recent string of sub-par performances. Liria gave up three earned runs in 2.1 innings, while Larry Suarez also let in three earned runs while going 1.1 innings. Bryce Shafer restored some order as he had four strikeouts in 1.2 scoreless innings, and Austin Reed picked up his first save as he set down the River Bandits in order in the ninth.

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On Thursday, it seemed as if Starling Peralta and Dustin Geiger showed up for the Chiefs, but no one else as they lost 6-4 to Quad Cities. Peralta struck out six and allowed three earned runs through five innings, but the defense and the bullpen failed to back him up. Justin Berg tossed two innings and gave up three unearned runs as he failed to pitch around a two-out error by Wes Darvill. Sheldon McDonald came in for a scoreless inning, but the damage had already been done. Dustin Geiger followed a big day on Wednesday by going 3-for-4 with his 14th homer and a double. Bijan Rademacher was 2-for-4, while Pin-Chieh Chen went 2-for-5 with a double and two RBI.

The Chiefs wasted another good starting performance on Friday, as Peoria would end up losing 4-2 to Quad Cities. Yao-Lin Wang appears to be stretched out and ready for his starting role, as he went 5.1 innings and allowed two earned runs while striking out six batters. However, veteran Jeffry Antigua failed to hold, as he gave up two earned runs in 1.2 innings. Pete Levitt pitched a scoreless inning with two strikeouts. Javier Baez remained a wrecking crew offensively, as he was 2-for-4 with his 12th home run and 20th stolen base. Zeke DeVoss was also 2-for-4 with a double.

Saturday’s 8-1 loss to Clinton was a total team effort, as a non-existent offense was no support to some poor pitching performances. Saturday night was a night that all knuckleballers dread. With Joe Zeller’s dazzler simply not at its best the Lumber Kings teed off for six runs (five earned) in 3.2 innings. Larry Suarez kept Clinton at bay as he went 2.1 scoreless innings and struck out three batters. Luis Liria remains totally out-of-sync as he allowed two earned runs in an inning. Bryce Shafer mopped up by striking out two batters in two scoreless innings. Chadd Krist was the entire offense for the Chiefs. Krist was 2-for-4 with double and a solo home run

High Class-A – Daytona Cubs (50-61)
Daytona pushed their win streak to four on Wednesday with a 2-1 victory over Fort Myers. Rehabbing pitcher Lendy Castillo started for the D-Cubs and struck out four while allowing an unearned run in four innings. He then turned things over to a veteran bullpen, which then shut down the Miracle for the rest of the way. Eduardo Figueroa went three innings and was awarded the victory while Scott Weismann earned his third hold by tossing 1.1 innings. Jeffrey Lorick struck out the only two batters he faced for his second save. Rubi Silva (1-for-4) drove in both of Daytona’s runs. John Andreoli and Taylor Davis were each 2-for-4, while Ronald Torreyes went 2-for-3.

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A couple of the D-Cubs flexed their muscles on Thursday, as they pushed their winning streak to five with an 8-2 win against Fort Myers. Newcomer Christian Villanueva (2-for-3 with two home runs and two RBI) blasted home runs in his first two at bats for Daytona. However, Villanueva’s homers came close to overshadowing the output of Ronald Torreyes. Torreyes drove in three runs as part of a 2-for-3 performance that included a home run. Both Rafael Lopez and Tim Saunders went 2-for-4. Saunders swiped his fourth base while Lopez pilfered one of his own. John Andreoli remained the table-setter with a 2-for-5 effort that included a double.

Robert Whitenack continued his comeback from Tommy John surgery and went 3.2 innings with three strikeouts while allowing an earned run to cross the plate. Designated piggy-back pitcher Ryan Searle virtually repeated Whitenack’s performance, giving up an earned run in 3.1 innings and striking out five batters. AJ Morris slammed the door for the final two innings.

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All good things must come to an end as Daytona could only translate nine hits into two runs as they lost 8-2 to Fort Myers on Friday. It wasn’t an outing Kyler Burke would want to put in his scrapbook. Burke allowed three earned runs and committed an error while striking out four batters in five innings. Newly assigned Kyle Hendricks posted a scoreless inning, but Hunter Cervenka was tagged for three runs (two earned) as he struck out two in two innings. No dramatics from the offense in this game. Rubi Silva had the only RBI as he was 2-for-4. Vladimir Frias was 3-for-4 with a double and a run scored.

Saturday saw one of the organization’s best pitchers have a hiccup, as Daytona lost 12-5 to Dunedin. Matt Loosen was sporting a 10-3 record going into the game, but gave up seven runs (four earned) in two innings. Scott Weismann didn’t fare much better, allowing three earned runs in 2.2 innings. Eduardo Figueroa let in two more earned runs in his 2.1 innings. Only Jeffrey Lorick was unscathed, as he struck out two in a scoreless inning. Cuban nationals Rubi Silva and Elieser Bonne were each 2-for-4 with an RBI, with Bonne adding a double to his total. Rebel Ridling joined them in going 2-for-4 as he also hit a double and had a solo home run.

Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (55-57)
After completing Tuesday’s suspended game on Wednesday, the Smokies played their regularly scheduled game as part of a seven inning doubleheader … and Tennessee edged Pensacola 1-0. Dallas Beeler usually excels at these types of games, and Wednesday was no exception as he struck out two over five scoreless innings. Brian Schlitter finished up by shutting down the Blue Wahoos for two innings. Justin Bour (1-for-2) was all the offense the Smokies needed, as his solo home run was the difference. Junior Lake, Nelson Perez, and Matt Cerda also collected hits.

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Tennessee threw a new pitcher into the fire on Thursday and wound up getting burned as they lost 6-1 to Pensacola. Recently acquired from the Texas Ranger organization, Jacob Brigham started and allowed three runs (two earned) in three innings. Zach Rosscup had long duty that evening, and kept the Blue Wahoos in check for five innings by striking out four while giving up only one earned run. Tony Zych was then hit for two earned runs in the final inning. Logan Watkins managed the Smokies’ only two hits that included his fifth home run of the year.

When rain made the field unplayable on Friday, a doubleheader was scheduled with Jackson on Saturday. In the opener, Tennessee came out on top of a see-saw affair, winning 6-5. Nick Struck allowed the Generals to take a one run lead in the second inning. Struck allowed three earned runs over five innings. In the third inning, Matt Szczur (1-for-4) doubled and came home on a Junior Lake (2-for-3, two RBI) single. A single by Justin Bour (2-for-3) put runners at the corners, as Michael Burgess (2-for-4, two doubles) doubled them home. The Smokies took the lead in the fifth as Logan Watkins (1-for-4) tripled and scored on an error off the bat of Lake. Bour then delivered his 13th home run to put Tennessee ahead for good. Frank Batista gave up a leadoff home run, as well as another earned run, in the sixth, but collected himself in the seventh to earn his 20th save.

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The nightcap had Tennessee fans holding their breath, as a furious rally fell just short with the Smokies losing 8-7 to Jackson. Long reliever Casey Harman was asked to spot start and was up to the task, striking out four and allowing an earned run through three innings. Casey Weathers relieved and gave up three earned runs in an inning of work. Kevin Rhoderick was then lit up for four earned runs in 1.2 innings. Infielder Dustin Harrington got the final out of the sixth inning. Justin Bour tried to carry Tennessee on his back offensively as he was 2-for-2 with two walks, a two-run home run, three RBI, and a stolen base. Michael Brenly was 2-for-4 with two runs driven in, while Nelson Perez also plated two runs as he was 1-for-4 with a double.

Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (43-72)
The losing streak reached five games on Wednesday as Iowa had a host of new faces in their 11-6 loss to Colorado Springs. Taking the mound was Ty’Relle Harris, up for the third time this season for the I-Cubs. Harris went four innings and allowed five runs (four earned) while striking out four batters. However, Jay Jackson imploded for six earned runs in only one inning. Michael Bowden ate some innings with three scoreless that included six strikeouts. Jaye Chapman also added a scoreless inning. Playing at his third level this season, Greg Rohan said hello to Pacific Coast League pitchers by smacking two home runs and driving in three runs. Rohan was 3-for-4 in his Triple-A debut. Brett Jackson had a double and triple as part of his 3-for-5 evening. James Adduci also had a triple as part of a 2-for-5 performance that included a RBI. Josh Vitters (1-for-3) plated two and hit his 16th home run.

Make it six in a row as the I-Cubs couldn’t make more than four runs out of thirteen hits on Thursday, losing 7-2 to Colorado Springs. Both Josh Vitters and Dave Sappelt were 3-for-5, but neither could drive in a run. Greg Rohan followed up his debut by going 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI. James Adduci was 2-for-5with a double and a RBI. Brooks Raley, on the eve of being named organizational Pitcher of the Month, allowed six earned runs and struck out five in six innings. Marcus Hatley had three strikeouts over two scoreless innings, while Jairo Asencio gave up an earned run and struck out two batters.

Iowa allowed one to slip away from them on Friday, as the losing streak reached seven in a row, dropping a 4-1 loss to Colorado Springs. In one of his better performances of the season, emergency starter Ryan Rowland-Smith allowed only one earned run while striking out six in six innings. Esmailin Caridad was able to keep Colorado Springs off the board for two innings while recording two strikeouts. But Jaye Chapman let the game get away. Chapman gave up three earned runs in the ninth. Josh Vitters continued to swing a hot bat. Vitters was 3-for-4 with a double, and newcomer Jeff Frazier was 3-for-3.

Leave it to Iowa’s main man to finally break the streak, as the I-Cubs went away a 5-1 winner over Colorado Springs on Saturday. Josh Vitters three-run homer in the top of the eighth was the nail in the coffin, as he was 1-for-4 for the evening. Iowa actually took the lead in the eighth on a James Adduci (1-for-4) RBI single. The game had been tied at 1-1 as Dave Sappelt (1-for-3) singled and scored on a double play in the fifth.

Chris Rusin had everything working for him Saturday night. Rusin struck out eight and allowed only one earned run in seven innings. Rusin also helped break up a no-hit bid with a single in the third. However, Michael Bowden was the recipient of the Adduci and Vitters RBI, as he picked up the victory with a perfect eighth inning. Jairo Asencio also had a perfect inning in the ninth.

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News and Notes
The Chicago Cubs recalled RHP Chris Volstad and RHP Alberto Cabrera from the Iowa Cubs; placed RHP Blake Parker at the Iowa Cubs for a rehab assignment; optioned RHP Casey Coleman to the Iowa Cubs.

The Iowa Cubs placed RHP Rodrigo Lopez on the 7-Day disabled list. The Tennessee Smokies assigned RHP Ty’Relle Harris, IF Greg Rohan, and C Juan Apodaca to the Iowa Cubs; activated RHP Jacob Brigham; assigned RHP Kyle Hendricks to the Daytona Cubs.

The Daytona Cubs assigned IF Matt Cerda to the Tennessee Smokies; placed SS Elliot Soto on the 7-Day disabled list; signed IF Vladimir Frias; assigned SS Tim Saunders to the Peoria Chiefs.

The Peoria Chiefs assigned SS Javier Baez to the Daytona Cubs. The Boise Hawks released RHP Roderik Pichardo; assigned RHP Pierce Johnson to the AZL Cubs. The AZL Cubs assigned RHP Lendy Castillo to the Daytona Cubs.

The Cubs optioned Tony Campana to Triple-A Iowa; purchased the contract of OF Brett Jackson from Triple-A Iowa and recalled IF Josh Vitters from Triple-A Iowa.

The CCO’s Prospect Watch

Note: Dillon Maples, sixth in the pre-season reader’s poll, has resumed play and has been added to the top prospect list.

  • Javier Baez (IF) – . 333, 10 doubles, five triples, 12 home runs, 33 RBI, 20 stolen bases (Peoria Chiefs)
  • Jeimer Candelario (3B) – . 287, seven doubles, five home runs, 31 RBI, two stolen bases (Boise Hawks)
  • Zeke DeVoss (2B) – .232, 20 doubles, four triples, four home runs, 29 RBI, 29 stolen bases (Peoria Chiefs)
  • Junior Lake (IF) – . 292, 17 doubles, two triples, seven home runs, 32 RBI, 16 stolen bases (Tennessee Smokies)
  • Dillon Maples (RHP) – 0-0, 3.38 ERA, 2.2 innings, two strikeouts, four walks, 1.88 WHIP (Arizona Cubs)
  • Matt Szczur (OF) – .172, two doubles, RBI, stolen base (Tennessee Smokies)
  • Ronald Torreyes (2B) – .271, 19 doubles, four triples, six home runs, 42 RBI, 13 stolen bases (Daytona Cubs)
  • Josh Vitters (3B) – .304, 32 doubles, two triples, 17 home runs, 68 RBI, five stolen bases (Iowa Cubs)
  • Dan Vogelbach (1B) – . 333, 11 doubles, two triples, seven home runs, 30 RBI, stolen base (Mesa Cubs/Boise Hawks)
  • Robert Whitenack (RHP) – 1-5, 6.25 ERA, 40.1 innings, 27 strikeouts, 22 walks, 1.91 WHIP (Daytona Cubs)
  • Tony Zych (RHP) – 0-1, 7.94 ERA, 11.1 innings, 15 strikeouts, seven walks, 2.29 WHIP (Tennessee Smokies)

Jorge Soler, Albert Almora and the AZL Cubs
Tim Sheridan sent the CCO a link to a video he produced that features footage of Jorge Soler, Dan Vogelbach and several of the younger players in the system. Tim Sheridan also had a chance to sit down with Albert Almora.

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO

Quote of the Day

"You try to get that game out of your mind, but it never leaves you." - Cool Papa Bell
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  • Aaron

    Tom,

    Thanks for the report.

    Do you or Neil, or anyone else have an idea why Soler hasn’t played the last 2 games?

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Aaron, I saw rumblings of something minor from a questionable source but that is all I’ve seen or heard.

      • redlarczykg

        Tom,
        Do you know anything about Trey McNutt’s problems are this year at Tenn AA? His star seems to losing it’s shine.
        Why was Jeffry Antigua demoted to Peoria from Tenn? Is he being punished or something?
        Also, can you visualize Alberto Cabrera being converted back to a starter in a year or so of relief, after he gains more control of his pitches, He looks like he could be a dominate power starting pitcher with the stuff he has?

        • Aaron

          I know you asked Tom, but I can tell you all about McNutt, as I’ve followed him closely.

          He’s always had good stuff and a power arm, but he throws entirely too many pitches to be effective as a starter, and entirely too many to be effective as a reliever.

          As a starter prior to this year, he could dial it up to 97-98 mph when he really needed it, but this year, I’ve read that he barely touches 94 mph, even in relief for short bursts.

          He seems to nibble an awful lot for a power arm, and seems genuinely afraid to challenge hitters. This is probably a combination of last year’s struggles, the blister problems, and the fact that he couldn’t get out of the 4th or 5th innings as a starter, and he probably realized his star had plummeted.

          I was still high on him as recently as a few months ago, but he has absolutely no future with this team. I said it back at the trade for Garza, and I’ll say it again….the Cubs got rid of the wrong pitcher in Archer. I said then he had a rubber arm, and I was concerned about McNutt’s max effort delivery.

          While McNutt hasn’t had any known arm problems (just blister), I can’t help but think there’s something going on with his arm that has taken him from top prospect that could hit 97-98 mph to non-prospect that can’t even find success in middle relief at 94 mph tops.

          As for Antigua, they wanted to stretch him out a bit. They needed a spot for Rosscup, so they sent him out, and have been trying to get him multiple innings in Peoria. I would bet they’ll start piggybacking him towards the end of the season, as they want to build up to the 4-5 innings he’ll need to accomplish that.

          I’m a little disappointed to say the least in how they’ve handled him. Both Antigua and Suarez were very hyped out of the DSL, and for a lefty to be sitting at 92-93 mph, touching 95 mph on occasion, I would think he’d be more valued, especially with the success he’s had. Suarez is unfortunate, as he hit high 90’s, and had a very similar build to Zambrano….in other words, he could’ve been a horse, but the Cubs messed with him, shuffling him back and forth from starting to relieving too much. It seemed with Suarez that he’d have a good outing as a starter, then the very next week, he’d be out of the pen…I just didn’t understand it.

          I would love to see Cabrera as a starter, and I think they’ll figure that out very quickly too with his control issues. He’s a lot like Samardzija, especially with the velocity, slider, and sinker. However, unlike Samardzija, who can maintain the velocity deep into games, I read last year that Cabrera was dipping down to like 92 mph beyond the 5th. Still, if he can locate at 92 mph, and still maintain his sinker and slider, then he can be effective…at least in my opinion.

          As with most power pitchers like Zambrano, Wood, Samardzija, etc., they usually walk a lot of guys, so putting them in relief is a recipe for disaster. Sometimes it takes them a few innings to get in a groove and find their release point, and in the process, they’ll walk guys, and a few will inevitably score. As a reliever, you’re destroying your team’s chances of victory, but as a starter, if you’re wild, and maybe give up 3 runs over the course of 6-7 innings, then you’re at the top of your game.

          This is also why I believe Marmol would thrive by moving back to the starter’s role he came up in.

          Guys like Camp, Russell, the since-traded Marshall, Batista, etc. thrive in relief, because they throw a lot of strikes.

          On a side note, Dolis also needs to be moved back to a starter’s role, where he experienced a majority of his success the last few years in the minors. It was a dumba$$ decision by Hendry and company when they removed him from that role in Tennessee….just stupid roster management if you ask me.

          • redlarczykg

            Thanks Aaron for your insights.
            I’m just wondering if the Cubs minor league coaches, are teaching “pitch to contact”? Meaning, quit trying to strike each batter out. Locate you pitches (if you can) so the batter gets themselve out by grounding of flying out.

          • Aaron

            They can teach all they want, but it still takes a player actually going out and executing for the message to be effective.

            Unfortunately, usually it takes an injury for a player to finally realize that, because young power pitchers tend to want to throw the ball by guys instead of just getting the outs, limiting pitch counts.

        • Tom U

          redlarczykg, Aaron covered things pretty well, but I’ll add my two cents.

          I was actually surprised to see McNutt moved to the pen. In keeping track of the minors, I noticed that McNutt usually had most of his problems in the first two innings, then settled down. If that was the case, what kind of reliever would he make. This off-season will be critical for him as he has to do a lot of soul searching. Will he pitch up to his ability, or fade away?

          Antigua is a real puzzle as he appears to be part of a group of players that were really successful last year, but now seem lost. Others include Rebel Ridling, Ryan Searle, Taiwan Easterling, Zeke DeVoss, and Matt Cerda. I was shocked that Antigua wasn’t part of Tennessee’s rotation. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him, and the rest of those players I mentioned released following the season.

          If you haven’t caught it form some of my previous comments, then I’ll flat out say it: I don’t like Alberto Cabrera as a prospect. Football evaluators have a term for him: “Coach Killer”. Cabrera has “stuff” that makes people drool, but he has never been able to use it effectively. His type will always get chances, as someone will always believe they are the one to “help him find himself” or “tap into his ability”, or some other cliche.

          • Aaron

            Tom,

            I agree with everything you said, including the surprising underperforming players you mentioned, though at least DeVoss has a high OBP.

            It would be sad if DeVoss and Antigua were released, but the rest I could care less.

            As for Cabrera, a few weeks ago or so, you put it best when you said that his stats are misleading as a reliever, because he’d often times allow inherited runners to score.

            But that fact alone is why I believe he’d be a better starter. I guess we’ll see what happens, but you’re right about the “stuff” that makes scouts drool. He’s got a fastball that sits consistently in the 94-98 mph range in relief, a killer slider, and as we saw in the Dodgers game…and Len pointed out….he’s got a wicked sinker he uses as a changeup. Mid-90’s fastball, wicked slider, plus change…..count me as one that says he should be starting

          • cubtex

            Have you seen his minor league numbers? They are shocking. He has great K numbers but terrible hit per innings. That leads me to believe that he usually misses badly and hangs that slider in the middle of the zone and gets hammered(like when AJ Ellis took him deep) Didn’t they try to make him a starter already and that failed miserably and now have him relief? I could be mistaken but that is what I thought I heard.

          • Tom U

            Justin Bour was just named the Southern League’s Hitter of the Week.

      • Aaron

        thanks Neil

        • scott

          I read somewhere it was mono. Not sure if its true.
          Scott

          • Tom U

            I can’t say for sure about Soler, but you may be confusing him with Concepcion, who is reported to have mono.

          • scott

            U R right Tom. I am wrong. Thanks
            Scott

          • Tom U

            There are no right or wrongs. Just glad to be of assistance.

  • Zonk

    Tom, would it be possible to add a couple of the new guys to CCO prospect watch? Thinking of Villanueva, and maybe Hendricks.

    Also, noticed that Torreyes is playing more SS lately. He is considered a PLUS defensive 2B prospect, how is he at SS? Does he have the arm for that position?

    • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

      I’ve had the same thought Zonk…

  • Zonk

    Tom: Who’s stock do you think is rising or falling in terms of prospects? I’ll offer a quick take from my uninformed perspective:

    Three Up:

    Javier Baez
    Dan Vogelsbach
    Ronald Torreyes

    Three Down:

    Trey McNutt
    Gerardo Concepcion
    Jay Jackson
    I almost hesitate to call Jackson a “prospect” anymore, even though he flashed on BA’s top 100 a couple years ago. He is probably heading to a release.

    • Aaron

      You asked Tom, but I want to give it a shot too:

      3 Up:
      Baez
      Vogelbach
      Bour

      3 Down:
      McNutt
      Lake (he’s not done terrible, but he also hasn’t taken off as expected)
      Hoilman (from leading the league last year in bombs, to not even cracking double digits and having nearly 150 K’s in Peoria as a 23 year old….he’ll be like Cuneo and Jones, and be released next year)

      • cubtex

        Aaron or Tom….What is your opinion on what has happened to McNutt? Do you believe he is hurt? 2010 he had great K per IP numbers in 3 stops including AA. 2011 his K numbers dropped significantly and then again this year. That sounds like a guy who has lost velocity to me. Any thoughts?

        • Aaron

          answered below

      • Zonk

        I thought about Lake….he is very “toolsy”. But more tools than actual results.

        He field well enough to stay at SS, but doesn’t hit well enough for 3B or an outfield corner

        I suppose we have our Jeff Baker replacement in-house if we need it….

        • Aaron

          It’s really unfortunate with him. Some guys like him (got more $$ than Castro to sign), Suarez, etc. get their big signing bonus, then quit working hard. Lake is toolsy as you mention, and he’s got a phenomenal frame to grow into, but he should have WAY more power than he has, and he just hasn’t put it all together.

          Teams have reportedly called the Cubs in recent years about trading for him….NOT as a fielder, but as a pitcher. Perhaps the Cubs will switch him to pitching, and see what his reported 97-98 mph heat does on the mound, yet he’s already erratic throwing from SS, so I’m not sure he’d be successful on the mound.

          • Zonk

            ….it would almost be easier if he was hitting .190 to make that move to pitching. Really tough what to do with him. 22 years old is a little late to start pitching though.

          • Aaron

            It is technically the player’s call. A team comes to the player with a position switch request, and the player can resist, in which case he’s almost surely to be released, or accept, and go through the process. In this case, he’s hitting over .280, so it’s not entirely necessary, and he’s improved his plate discipline somewhat….I would imagine they’ll bring him to Camp Buss, and pack on more muscle, and send him off to the AZFL again to see how he does.

            As for the age….both Matt Spencer and Kyler Burke have made the switch, and in Spencer’s case, he was a lot like Lake, in that he showed power, had a decent batting average, but was never going to make it as a hitter, so he is trying to be a power lefty reliever now.

          • paulcatanese

            Don’t know Zonk, at what age did Koufax begin pitching? The conversion of position players to pitching is a long one(although I dont know how many success stories are out there) Marmol,Wells, Hal Jeffcoat(Cubs)If I had the inclination to follow up on that, probably a lot more, but then I hate stats.
            But you have a good point.

          • Brp921

            Am I misunderstanding you Paul? I was not aware of Sandy Koufax being a position player early in his career. I knew he didn’t experience success till a few years into his career but I only caught the tail end of it.

          • paulcatanese

            I may have worded it incorrectly, what I meant with Koufax was I dont believe he even started pitching until a later age, not a position player just taking the game up later. ( may be wrong on that) but seems that is what I remember.
            I do remember Jeffcoat as being a center fielder and converting to pitcher, but too late in his career to being effective.

          • Brp921

            I see what you meant now. Thanks for the clarification. I really just was getting interested in baseball at the end of his career.

          • DWalker

            well, he still might have a better shot long term of being more then a bit player by switching to the mound. He may find that with the structured flow of actual pitching rather then the pick and throw of a SS, he will get more accuracy. Considering the number of SS’s in the system, it seems like a good move for the club, though he may not be all that keen on it.

  • cubtex

    Expect to see more games like yesterday from the bullpen.
    With Garza out for at least a couple of more weeks…..We will see Volstad,Germano,Travis Wood, Shark and probably the Casey Coleman show again. What do these pitchers have in common? Well, obviously they are not top of the rotation starters but that being said……they don’t pitch long into games. So if they go 5 maybe 6 innings……expect to see a lot of this bullpen(and we saw how good they were yesterday) Shawn Camp, Scott Maine, James Russell, Manny Corpas, Cabrera.
    They will not win many games this month…..but it will be fun to watch BJax,Rizzo,Castro,Vitters,and Wellington Castillo get at bats in the mlb.
    I think I will be flipping the channels alot this month when the bullpen comes in the game:)

    • Zonk

      Look at the bright side. Other than Marmol, we’re not wasting alot of money in that bullpen either.

      I actually think we’ve done an OK job finding pitchers that were basically free castoffs, and getting some use out of them. Thinking of Camp and Corpas primarily, but Maine and Russell were never hot prospects and acquired cheap.

      We got Scott Maine for Aaron Heilman, I can’t beleive we received a living being for Heilman.

      • cubtex

        Zonk…other than Soriano…they are not wasting money on anybody! lol

        • paulcatanese

          Like that one Cubtex, right on the money(what money?) It’s all in the bank, collecting interest.

      • paulcatanese

        From the small sample size I saw of BJax I was impressed. I envision power from his swing and other than take the third strike, I thought he did alright, and based on that sample, I would say he’s a keeper.
        That being said, when he learns to play the outfield in the Majors
        ( routes,as he did come in on two balls, and then back) and the walls of the different parks(the bounces,winds,sun, all the little nuances) he has the tools, speed, arm, simply needs the time to develop at this level, and he will.
        Looks like the Cubs have a center fielder.
        Now lets see Vitters today.

        • Zonk

          He’s got all the tools. I’m just keeping track of the strikeouts. If he can keep those down to 25% of his ABs or less, we’ll be OK. If he strikes out closer to the 35% clip he was going in Iowa, look out..

        • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

          It’s a pretty small sample size but I liked what I saw yesterday from Jackson. Especially the hit off Choate! Left-handed specialty reliever comes in and has one purpose…to get left-handed batters out. Jackson rips him opposite field! That was seriously impressive. My only concern is that with a guy as confident as BJax I expect him to impress early. He’s up from AAA and feels it’s his shot to show he belongs and that he should have been there a long time ago. Time will tell if he can make the adjustments necessary to be productive over the long run. Can’t overlook 156 K’s at AAA. But I didn’t notice any major holes in his swing yesterday. Especially the hit against Choate. He took what he was given and went oppo. I just hope he can ride out the season without going into a slump and then work on some things in the offseason and start next year strong.

  • cc002600

    Not that W-L record is the most important thing for your minor league teams, but while I have been intently following certain individual players (Vitters, BJax, etc) just like everyone else on here, I didn’t even notice that Iowa is now 43-72 !!! Holy cow !!

    Yikes.

    • DWalker

      no pitching does that even when you have offense. now that BJax and Vitters are moved up, its going to get even uglier I am afraid.

      • paulcatanese

        May be so, but at least the addition of Rizzo,BJax, and Vitters the offense will progress to the point that it could offset the lack of pitching to the degree that games may be close and may go either way.
        Just trying to put a positive slant on the rest of the season. One can only hope at this point.
        Yesterdays game for example, still down to the wire, and it could have gone either way.

        • DWalker

          Actually, i mostly meant Iowa is going to get uglier. To be honest, i could see the main club rebuilding faster through a few mor epickups then Iowa right now. Its going to be a few years before Iowa sees enough talent coming in that call ups won’t make major holes.
          I think the main club just picked up a lot of offense potential. the problem is still going ot be pitching.

          • Tom U

            Scott, the management of the Iowa Cubs has been among the biggest peeves I’ve had with the front office.

            According to what was communicated, Triple-A was were the organization wanted their talent to finish their development. This season, Iowa has had too many players who were simply “finished”.

            Most winning organizations use Triple-A as a de facto “injury reserve”, where “has beens” and “never was’s” congregate in case of an emergency, as long as the parent club is in contention.

            Everyone else starts dumping these players anywhere from 2 weeks before the draft to a week or so after the signing period. Then they re-shuffle the deck for their minor league teams.

            This hasn’t happened with the Cubs, who would rather sign someone like Jeff Frazier (like someone said yesterday, REALLY?!) than given a player like Logan Watkins an opportunity.

          • coachdon

            I agree wholeheartedly. What does Bour need to do to get promoted? He could help that anemic offense at Iowa. Watkins should be up. Even Lake may add something and give the FO a chance to evaluate him at a higher level. Jokisch, Batista, and maybe Struck could be given a 3 to 4 week shot at AAA to see where they’re at developmentally. I’m a believer in moving young guys up when you have the opportunity because I think it tells the kids that they have a chance if they play hard and learn and improve.

          • http://www.facebook.com/mike.simala Mike Simala

            I think the lack of movement of players up to finish off in Iowa is also due to a need to clean up the Big League club and move people out of there.
            I mean i think they clearly expected that they were signing some players with hopes of flipping them at the deadline for prospects, which was done. So they knew they would need additional vets to cover for whoever may have gotten traded, which could explain the abundance of veteran junk in Iowa. Now remember we pretty much only had 3 prospects worthy of AAA to begin with anyways and they all were able to finish off there this year. So it was a good place during the rebuild to stash some vets and whatnot because nobody was really being blocked. Now as some have developed and the FO has had a season to evaluate what exactly they have, I would definitely expect more movement.. So going into next year I think it will be a finishing spot for our prospects not a holding place for vets and what not. Id expect to see alot more movement from this point forward.

    • cubtex

      They are actually 43-73. 30 games under .Yikes is right!

    • http://www.facebook.com/mike.simala Mike Simala

      no pitching!

  • Aaron

    The Cubs need to sign Jesse Chavez right now….just released by Jays, had 11K:BB ratio in bigs this year, and despite limited success at the big league level…and minors prior to this year, had good success in the rotation at AAA this year. Cubs need a spot starter for Garza….perhaps he’s the answer?

    • paulcatanese

      Sounds good to me Aaron, I can always count on you for proper assement of pitching. The FO should listen, at the least to someone, information can come from anywhere. And you have been spot on.

      • Aaron

        I’m not saying Chavez will even do well….but that the Cubs really don’t have any other options. If they brought in Rusin and Raley, it’d start their clocks as they’d have to be added to the 40-man. They can’t bring up Coleman, because he just had a start.

        The only other option I can think of is Lendy Castillo, who has been starting ever since coming off the DL, and was just promoted to AA in his rehab. It would make sense to bring him up in a starting role, but perhaps they want to give him a few more starts to make the conversion.

    • Zonk

      Why not? We have players that are pretty dropable on the 40-man.
      Theo and Co. have done alot of dumpster diving this year for players like Chavez, no reason they wouldn’t continue that

      • http://www.facebook.com/mike.simala Mike Simala

        I think their roster stands at 39 now anyways, dont think anyone would have to be removed.

  • cubtex

    Mention that Chris Vostad is a non tender candidate for next year…..the reason? Well obviously the numbers. He is 0-8 with a 7.22 ERA. He is making 2.66 mil this year and IF the Cubs tender him, he will get a raise of over $400,000 taking his salary over 3 mil per. The system is flawed when you have a guy putting up those pathetic numbers and he will get a raise. With the lack of starting pitching they would probably want to keep him in AAA but it would be hard to justify at that salary.

    • Vivid_Reality

      4.63 xFIP, stick him in the 5 hole and hope for better.

  • Matt

    Per Brooks Raley’s Twitter, he will be making the spot start vs the Padres tomorrow.

    • cubtex

      good for him!

  • Zonk

    Brooks Raley is starting Tuesday’s game. Tom, what is the scouting report on him?

    From the stats, doesn’t look like he’s fooled alot of hitters in the minors, with a 1.400+ WHIP, and a little over 6Ks per 9. Odds are pretty good he won’t fool too many major league hitters either. Could be rough……

    • cubtex

      Good thing is that he is pitching at PeCo. He is a good athlete. 88 to 90 mph. Good control and decent breaking stuff. He will battle.

  • chipguy2030

    Tom, I really like the trade for Villanueua, but I was thinking 3rd Base might be the position that Baez would fill into. Have you heard anything about any minor league players changing positions? (like Baez, Lake, Torreyes, Candelario, Amaya)